Why Pre-Hire Testing is Killing your Recruiting Results?

I am often asked for my opinion about adding pre-employment tests to the selection process. It would be easy for me to write a lengthy post about the validity of various test results and their ability to predict on the job success. We could have a heated debate about whether compatibility matters more than competency – if you have the right leadership in place.

But, I’ll save that fun for another day. The question that no one seems to be talking about, is how testing affects the candidate experience.

You’ve spent time, effort and money to send a message that your team is awesome. Everyone knows your company is a great place to exercise creativity, take initiative and fully utilize your talents. That’s good branding. But how does the message play when a candidate goes through your recruitment process – when you and your company are the ones being tested? As a reflection of their future working experience, your best candidates are looking for a recruitment process that is fun, engaging and that offers challenges where they can showcase their best qualities.

I understand the desire to build in hurdles that ensure only the best, smartest, most-engaged and productive workers reach your finish line. After all, you are probably thinking, “If they’re too lazy or disinterested to complete our assessment, then we don’t want them anyway. Good riddance!” So you introduce… TESTING. It’s statistically valid, so who cares if it is also trivial, frustrating and tedious! Candidates should be eager to sit through a grueling full-day inquisition. After all, it enables you to reduce a uniquely qualified human into a lump of data. What a great way to manage risk – your test makes everything black and white. It is almost impossible to make a bad hire and you are the master the recruiting universe. Or not.

Alas, your wonderfully accurate test results aren’t worth diddly because your top candidates no longer want the job. They walk away questioning your judgement and culture. I may sound jaded. But, I have seen it happen, time and again. Candidates who were initially intrigued and interested, quickly opt out of a process that is painful – and dehumanizing.

I’m not advising that you should hire blindly or never test. There is a time and place for technical assessments, assignments, and testing tools. But they need to make sense and respect the person, as well as their skills. They need to be challenging and fun, and send a positive message. Understand that this a try-out for both you and the candidate. You both need to nail it, because building a winning team is worth it.

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Comment by Valentino Martinez on March 21, 2013 at 1:55pm

Agree & well stated...

BTW--try going after a highly sought-after; gainfully employed; "passive" candidate and say..."Before we can take you to the next step of our evaluation process you'll need to take this TEST".  The sound you hear will be the silent sound of an ended connection.

Comment by Daniel Pratt on March 21, 2013 at 2:49pm

Great post Kristina! I think the problem with most testing platforms is that they are outdated, difficult to use, and, as you pointed out, refuse to take the candidate's experience into consideration. However, that's not to say testing candidates doesn't have it's place. 

I work for a company that just came out with a product to test and manage large groups of candidates so you know which one's to spend the most time with. We built SkillSets (is it okay for me to link this here?) with both the candidiate and recruiter in mind. The testing process is adaptive, meaning it can give an accurate proficiency score in under 60 seconds. The tests are also beautifully designed and fun to take in my slightly biased opinion :)

I'd love for you to check it out and tell me what you think! We have a small team that's always eager for some great industry feedback. 

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